Thankfully, restarting a Mac often clears up whatever issues have arisen, but there are times when you need more information to determine the origin of the most recent wonkiness. For that, there are a couple of free options. One that Apple builds in to OS X, and one you have to download.
Unleash The Geek In You
Troubleshooting a Mac is not fun unless you don’t mind unleashing a little of your inner geek. Thankfully, Mac users have plenty of geeky tools which let you track down performance culprits in real time. OS X’s built-in Activity Monitor (you can find it in Applications > Utilities) helps because it lists everything running on your Mac, and features an easy way to Force Quit a wayward app before it causes trouble elsewhere.
Or, simply download FastTasks to get a number of additional functions that massage your geek gene. One click gets you a boatload of useful data about your Mac’s current condition. My favorite is the Analyzer.
A Mac goes wonky for a reason and the Analyzer lets you check on recent changes to the system.
That’s not the only game in town, though. FastTasks displays system information, too. And that includes memory usage, network connections, battery status and cycles, and there are built-in options to display plenty of useful data in the Mac’s Menubar.
What other utility displays information about the Mac’s fan speeds, built-in firewall, RAM and free memory, and more? All a click away in the Menubar and including options to eject disks, free up some RAM, and check on why the Mac’s fan is screaming bloody murder.
Useful utilities include a toggle switch to view invisible files from within any folder on your Mac, remove or adjust automatic login items, but the killer feature for me is the analyzer which keeps a log of the Mac’s system profile so you can see what changes have occurred recently.
Another useful tool I use is EtreCheck which takes a snapshot of your Mac’s system and status; perfect for any tech working on your Mac or helping you troubleshoot an issue. For Mac users who want to be a bit more geeky but without the troubleshooting, there’s the free Onyx, which brings a laundry list of maintenance, optimization, and customizations to the Mac.
The latter two are free and highly prized. FastTasks has a nominal price tag but performs different functions.